The effectiveness and success HEAL Africa has been able to achieve is very much a result of our understanding of, and respect for, the Congolese communities. Working in concert with these communities and their leaders has resulted in great progress.
Years ago, following devastating conflict in Congo, HEAL Africa began to increasingly treat displaced rural refugees who would soon be returning home. It became evident that to send recovered patients back to the same situations was simply not safe–particularly for survivors of sexual violence, orphans, and widows. The vulnerability of these people, compounded by national insecurity and economic instability, greatly concerned the HEAL Africa staff, and resulted in the Nehemiah Initiative.
With this program, HEAL Africa began to work with community and religious leaders to create a support structure for the most vulnerable in their communities. The goal being to sensitize and mobilize community leaders to care for their vulnerable by supporting foster family programs, reintegration of widows and victims of sexual violence–as well as stimulating economic recovery through local agriculture and small animal husbandry.
Nehemiah groups assist returning members of the community by helping them settle land ownership disputes, boundary disputes, conflicts between neighbors, and a host of other problems. As members of the same community, Nehemiah workers have a great desire to see a lasting peace in the areas where they live, work and raise their children. The Nehemiah committees are highly trusted because every tribe and religion is represented. Today, there are more than 140 such committees found throughout the villages of rural Congo.